Essential workers are on the frontlines of our society every day, potentially being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. If you’re an essential worker in New Jersey and contract the coronavirus, you may eligible for workers' compensation and do not have to prove how you contracted the virus. This is a substantial change to typical workers' compensation claims which typically require evidence and proof that an illness or injury was a direct result of the workplace.
Who is an Essential Employee in New Jersey?
New Jersey states that “an employee in the public or private sector who during a state of emergency”:
- is a public safety worker or first responder, including any fire, police or other emergency responders;
- is involved in providing medical and other healthcare services, emergency transportation, social services, and other care services, including services provided in health care facilities, residential facilities, or homes;
- performs functions which involve physical proximity to members of the public and are essential to the public’s health, safety, and welfare, including transportation services, hotel and other residential services, financial services, and the production, preparation, storage, sale, and distribution of essential goods such as food, beverages, medicine, fuel, and supplies for conducting essential business and work at home; or
- is any other employee deemed an essential employee by the public authority declaring the state of emergency.
The fourth category includes workers deemed essential by a Governor’s order, such as construction workers, retail employees of gas stations and convenience stores, pharmacy employees, and grocery store employees.
Calculating Your COVID Workers Compensation Claim in New Jersey
Workers’ compensation provides several benefits to ill and injured workers. Medical benefits, such as payment of hospital and medical bills, as well as the loss of income during any period in which an employee is disabled. These benefits may be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the illness, and may include a full benefit amount or a partial benefit amount. The following are some of the benefits essential workers can file claims for:
- Compensation for Medical Expenses: Covers medical treatment, surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitative devices, and transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Temporary Disability: You can get two-thirds of the wages of your average weekly amount if your temporary disability claim is approved.
- Life Pension: If you are severely disabled with more than a 70% permanent disability rating, you can receive weekly life pension benefits.
- Death Benefits: If a workplace injury results in death, the surviving members of the worker’s family can file a claim for death benefits to cover various expenses.
New Jersey COVID Workers Compensation Claims
For most types of workers compensation claims, the worker must prove that the injury or illness was directly related to the job. New Jersey’s law, during the pandemic, presumes the essential employee’s COVID-19 illness is related to work. The employer would need to prove, with a preponderance of evidence, that the employee did not contract the virus at work.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, Can Help with Your COVID Workers Compensation Claim
Many New Jersey essential employees who were sick with COVID-19 can recover lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we offer a free consultation. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Get in touch today or call us at 201-514-6351.